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Food Safety Bill Passes and Things Look Up for Food

Three cheers for better eggs!

The Senate has just passed a bill that would give the FDA the authority, and the money, to inspect food processing plants, helping it prevent outbreaks of food borne illnesses, not just respond to them. The FDA will also have the authority to recall food. Plus, under the new law food imported into the US must meet the same safety standards as food produced in this country.

This is the first overhaul of food safety regulations in 70 years, and everyone who was nervous about buying an egg last summer for fear of salmonella should be relieved that this law, which was stalled in the Senate for a year after it passed the House of Representatives with bi-partisan support, has finally passed.  Why would anyone oppose this law?Some opposed it because they thought the new regulations would be too much for small farmers and food producers, so,Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser wrote in an Op/Ed in yesterday’s New York Times, an amendment was added by Senator Jon Tester of Montana which created an exemption to address those concerns.

Others, mostly Republicans and Tea Party types and, of course, Glenn Beck, opposed the bill because of its cost and increased levels of regulation.  But according to the Center for Disease Control, 5,000 people a year die from food borne illnesses and a recent study out of Georgetown University found that food borne illnesses cost about $152 billion every years.  The $300 million for the FDA looks like a bargain by comparison.

Food producers in this country get away with all kinds of short cuts that make for dangerous food.  Hopefully this law will prove to be a step in the right direction for cleaner, safer food for us all.

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